Despite the possibility of receiving an increase in state aid in 2013-14, the Hewlett-Woodmere and Lawrence school districts still face financial challenges created by the state tax levy cap.
Hewlett-Woodmere could receive $203,395 more from Albany, and Lawrence, $572,935. State aid projections are based on Gov. Andrew Cuomoâ€™s proposed budget.
Stephanie Gould, the Hewlett-Woodmere Board of Education president, said the increase is not enough. â€śOver the years, our taxes have been higher because weâ€™re not getting our fair share of state aid,â€ť she said. â€śWe got more this year, but that still doesnâ€™t mean weâ€™re getting an astounding amount. And the truth is that Long Island gives a great deal of tax money to the state, and what weâ€™re getting back isnâ€™t commensurate with what we give.â€ť
According to Dr. Peter Weber, the assistant superintendent of business for the Hewlett-Woodmere district, the Board of Education and the administration have faced increased challenges in assembling a budget that includes the most valued programs and services as a result of the tax levy cap, which was enacted in 2011.
The legislation established a cap of approximately 2 percent on the increase in the tax levy â€” the amount of money districts must collect in taxes to meet expenses â€” which varies from district to district according to a state formula. A budget with a tax levy increase at or below the cap will need only a simple majority to pass in Mayâ€™s public vote, while a spending plan with a proposed tax levy increase that exceeds the cap must be approved by a super-majority â€” at least 60 percent of voters.
â€śLike all facets of government, school districts have faced increased fiscal challenges throughout the course of the recession,â€ť Weber said. â€śMulti-year fiscal planning, including the prudent use of reserves, has allowed us to preserve the programs and services that define Hewlett-Woodmere. However, utilizing reserves is not a long-term solution. The Board of Education and District Leadership Team will work diligently to develop a budget to present to the community that will allow us to continue our commitment to our shared vision and mission.â€ť